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Self-sustaining fish tank?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I'm not asking out of laziness. We've had tanks in the far past, and they required lots of maintenance, and it always felt wierd to me, that we were obviously not keeping a tank that somewhat mimicked nature, requiring so much cleaning. And I've since been convinced that it's about balance, and that ours was off. That with the right size tank, the right plants, the right location, and the right type/mix and number of fish, you could create a more homeostatic environment that mostly regulated itself. Anyone have any experience with this?



post #2 of 5

I think it would be very tough in a tank.  There are just a lot of factors missing to make it a "natural" environment.  A small outdoor fishpond however can be completely self-sustaining with a good pump/filter.  It is fun to feed the fish though, they become tame and will come when you call them.

post #3 of 5

look up natural planted aquarium...or walstad method.


Basically, using a soil under gravel substrate, heavily planting and low (ish) lighting, the tank is fairly self sufficient.  It does take a bit of monitoring in the beginning, but with the right combo the plants clean and filter the water and the fish waste feeds the plants.  You also usually include snails and freshwater shrimp to help with the cleaning.

post #4 of 5

You will always have to do partial water changes, even with plants. Fish waste will build up, and there's nowhere for it to go. A large planted tank with a very light fish load has a much greater margin for error, but I don't think there's such a thing as a maintenance-free fish tank (not with healthy fish, anyway).


I have three large, heavily planted tanks, and the plants are a lot of work! They need to be trimmed and thinned regularly; it's a lot more difficult to clean the gravel around the plants. Yes, fish poo does act as fertilizer for the plants, but there is a limit. Filters still need to be cleaned periodically, heaters still need to be monitored, light bulbs changed, fish fed. I consider them the same way I do my dog - he needs a certain amount of daily attention (food, walks, yard cleanup), and so do the fishies.

post #5 of 5

Seriously, read the walstad book and research her method.  She has had amazing results.  Its not maitenance free no....but its very low maintenance.  I have not done a water change in months on my tank and its thriving.  

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